Egypt mulls arming Sinai Bedouin security force
CAIRO – In Egypt's restive Sinai, Bedouin leaders are pushing to take matters in their own hands and urging the government to arm their tribesmen by creating a local security force in the peninsula, where the state is struggling to impose its authority and uproot Islamic militants who have attacked Egyptian troops and neighboring Israel.
But the proposal, which the government says it is considering, raises fears that the Bedouin could become a new militia, only adding to the turmoil in the peninsula.
The idea highlights Cairo's dilemma in Sinai. Bedouin who make up the bulk of the population in its northern deserts and southern mountainous areas deeply resent the central government, saying they have long suffered from discrimination and economic neglect at the hands of officials and brutal crackdowns by security officials, who in past years have detained thousands of Bedouin youth, torturing many. The resentment has pushed some young Bedouin to join violent Islamic extremist groups, and Bedouin are major players in cross-border smuggling of drugs and migrants, fueling the lawlessness in the area.
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